Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, "Cell One"

Her big brother Nnamabia goes to prison.

(from The Thing Around Your Neck)

“How much did they give you for my gold?” our mother asked him. And when he told her she placed both hands on her head and cried, “Oh! Oh! Chi m egbuo m! My God has killed me!” I wanted to slap her. My father asked Nnamabia to write a report: how he had pawned the jewelry, what he had spent the money on, with whom he had spent it. I didn’t think that Nnamabia would tell the truth, and I don’t think that my father thought he would, but he liked reports, my professor father, he liked to have things written down and nicely documented.

This falls into a category of short story I rarely enjoy: Horrible Foreign Prison Stories. They drag the reader through the ringer and beat it into your head that things are so corrupt and cruel. I enjoyed this one, though, since the horribleness was only revealed at an angle, told from the perspective of the imprisoned boy’s younger sister. The narration was endearing. There was some hope. Do I need a short story to coddle me, to keep me from the harsh truth of things. Sure, sometimes.
Read this story here.

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